Archive for Porto Santo

Panoramarama part 2

Posted in Photographs, the Canary Islands, the Madeira archipelago, Walking with tags , , , , , , on June 7, 2011 by maidofmettle

I’m not at sea this time, but working through the photos and particularly the videos of the other trip is taking a while, so have another interlude : )

(of course, the quickest of you will have noticed that I just plain forgot it was due to publish!)


Panoramarama resumes on Porto Santo, part of the Madeira archipelago lying about 450 nautical miles south-west of Portugal. Terra Cha literally means the end of the earth, and it feels a bit like it!

Just round the corner from where I took this photo, it’s an unexpected green grotto on a jagged ridge plunging down into the ocean. The barren landscape you can see from it is typical of much of the island, though a lot of reforestation work has been carried out in the centre.

Again, just left-click on the thumbnails to open bigger versions.

Madeira is a different story – mostly densely wooded except for one high plateau and some of the biggest central hills. Even the view from the harbour in Funchal was beautiful, especially around sunset.

(and now I’m back. Woo-hoo!)

We all did a fair amount of walking there, but for me it’s a place I went on my own that sticks in the memory as the most beautiful – the village of Boaventura on the north coast.

The landscape around Mt Teide on Tenerife was much more barren but just as spectacular. This is the view across the giant crater to the north of the peak, taken at some point during our climb up Teide.

Gran Canaria doesn’t have a massive peak comparable to Mount Teide, but it’s probably had several that would have rivalled it at times, though only craters and ridges remain today. This is taken from the edge of the Caldera (crater) de Bandama, looking down to the coast, with Las Palmas in the background on the far left and the crater itself on the right.

The centrepiece of this picture is Roque Nublo, one of the most famous landmarks on Gran Canaria (especially since the Dedo del Dios – God’s finger – unfortunately collapsed into the sea). Mount Teide is just visible on the horizon, more than 50 miles away.

Roque Nublo (on the left) and Teide are both still visible in this one, but play second fiddle to the valleys and ridges surrounding Roque Bentayga in the centre.

That’s all for now!

Feeding time…Let them eat cake

Posted in Fun, Photographs, Sailing, Walking with tags , , , on September 19, 2010 by maidofmettle

Wind and waves looked good so it was time to leave Porto Santo.

In an attempt to make the boat move faster it was decided that a little clean was in order. We set to work on the water line with a brush and as far as could be reached with a snorkelling mask. Somehow Chris was offered some scuba diving gear to borrow from a German man called Wolfgang on the boat next to us in Porto Santo. Having tried it briefly in Cyprus some years ago, and after a quick reminder lesson he bravely tackled the bits of the boat that could not be reached by swimming. It was good but a bit scary and a bit difficult to relax to start with but he soon got the hang of it.

Scuba-scrub…watch out for barnacles

Unfortunately, Porto Santo has a regulation that does not permit scuba diving in the harbour without permission but seeing as he was intending only to go around the boat (and local divers with boats seemed to say that they did it) he decided to risk it. The second time he used it happened to coincide with a policeman wandering down the pontoon taking names of boats. Luckily he didn’t say anything though I’d be surprised if he didn’t notice Chris hiding under the pontoon or behind the boat occasionally bubbling!

Before leaving we needed to finish our mural. It is traditional (and some would say good luck) to paint the name of your boat on the wall of the break-water. I think we were surprised to see them here as we only knew that people did this in the Azores. There are hundreds of them so it was a bit tricky to find a space at first.

Chris spray painting after dark

Adding some small details

Finishing the boat

Once the mural was done we could officially leave. The time had also come to empty the composting toilet…Pete bravely volunteered to do this unenviable task at sea. Not going into too much detail, it’s not the nicest job but we feel that in some ways having a composting loo is much better than the alternative. Many people in boats flush everything straight into the sea so at least the composting helps decomposition a bit. Sorry Pete, glad you made it to some fresh air before it was too late 😉

The look says it all…

Nine hours after leaving Porto Santo, we got to Madeira. It was a bit calm at times but we managed to make it in daylight.

Quinta da Lorde – Madeira, note the tight turn and narrow entrance

I’m not sure whether the scuba scrub made all that much difference to our speed but maybe we’ll see in time. I managed my first drive into a berth. It was a bit tight and more wind than I would have liked but it went well. The marina is fantastic with possibly the swankiest toilets/showers we’ve seen so far and the most helpful staff imaginable. “Let me know what you are going to do whilst you are on the island and remember if we can do ANYTHING, let us know”.

Although nice looking, the town appears a bit ghostly and seems to be an almost completed development that they have sort of given up on but it gives an opportunity to do a lot of walking and exploring.

Ghost town Quinta da Lorde from the land

Like Porto Santo, Madeira also appears to be covered in little lizards. We fed some today after a short-ish walk to a pebble beach.

This way…maybe it’s the hats that make people think they are brothers?

Mmm orange – mini lizard on the beach

Next mission…find Madeira cake and wine.

Porto Santo

Posted in Fun, Photographs, Walking, Wildlife with tags , on September 17, 2010 by maidofmettle

Porto Santo town

Beach – As I’d imagine the Caribbean, the water is so clear here.

Welcome to Porto Santo. It is really lovely here. The guidebook claims it is ideal for cycling as it is “not very hilly” (or words to that effect). Whoever wrote the guidebook for the island has either never been here or is some kind of super fit mountain goat who finds the hills here extremely easy. Either way, you would (probably) not find me cycling around here.

Anyway we have all really enjoyed our time here. It has been perfect for some spectacular walks with amazing views to the sea on all sides! Below are the highlights of some of the best walks we have done here.

Walk around the SE corner of the island – Ponta da Gale

Some scrambling up through prickly pears and strange bendy plants – some with snails on them. Where the snails come from, who knows?

Walk up Pico de Ana Ferreira (SW corner of the island)

Caroline pointing to where we got to (Pico de Ana Ferreira)

Scary looking spiders…

Eeek – wouldn’t like to meet this in the dark.

We have discovered a brilliant bread delicacy that they make in and around Madeira. Bolo do Caco is a light bread made using the secret ingredient of sweet potato and then cooked on a hot plate. Here they have several stalls serving it with chorizo, bacon or hot-dogs and garlic butter with parsley and so on. Bolo do Caco has officially become Chris’ favourite bread – overtaking the bread we had in the river Guadiana for first place.

Every bolo do caco bread fanatic’s dream – an invitation to the
kitchen to see it made!

Chris and I had seen quads driving around the island for hire so we thought we’d give our legs a rest and have a go. Zooming around the island was really fun and plenty fast enough. Driving on the wrong side of the road didn’t turn out to be as difficult as I thought it might be either though I suppose not having driven all that much in the last year helped a lot. Porto Santo is perfect for quads given its hilly nature and the fact that some of the roads would be better described as dirt tracks. You definitely wouldn’t want to take a hire car out on some of them.

Chris driving on to a ‘road’

Even better is the fact that there isn’t very much traffic to be found anywhere so it is easy to get to some pretty inaccessible places fairly easily…once you get the hang of the quad that is! Going up-hill was much easier and more fun than down but we soon grew in confidence with it. The most frightening place we found was when we walked to see the view over the edge of the cliffs on the north of the island. I couldn’t believe the sight that met us…

Don’t look down. Chris demonstrating just how high this cliff edge is.

We also managed to get to the North East corner of the island and walked the 5km walk to Pico Branco and Terra Chã, which Pete had walked a few days earlier. It was a brilliant walk. Terra Chã has a small and seemingly abandoned bunkhouse looking out to sea on it. The ground here is interesting too because it looks quite soft and crumbly in some places and rocky in others. The path was maintained really well…even though we saw noone else doing the walk. Tourism seems not to have overrun the island yet.

Our quad had a funny few hours during the evening (maybe because of the cold?) and took to stalling a lot. Fortunately, it didn’t stop us too much and we were still able to enjoy a lovely (and quite brave) meal in a village called Camacha. When I ordered a coke the waitress said “you can get coke everywhere…would you like to try some local fruit juice drink?”. I’ve forgotten what it was called but I think it was some sort of fizzy passion fruit juice made in Madeira. It was good, a bit like Lilt. Later when we ordered food we were recommended a pasta and ribs dish which when asked what flavour it was, the reply “the flavour comes from the fat and bones…it really is quite interesting”. Maybe they need to work on their recommendation selling. Then again, we did try it so it must have worked and it was good. A giant skewer of chicken arrived as well and was hung up on a hook above our table to go with the pasta and in typical Portuguese fashion, chips and healthy salad to cancel out the chips. Mmm the Portuguese do good food 🙂

We used the quad as a way to get to some brilliant walking tracks and views, not to mention having wild camped between two peaks on the island. Thank you (yet again) £9.99 tent.

We walked up Pico de Castello the following day for breakfast. On the way back down the path we saw hundreds of small lizards skitting about so (having been told that they like it) tried to feed some of them some apple. After some time, they got used to us and Chris was able to take some photos of them feeding.

Oooh, apple…thank you very much”

As you got a full twenty four hours hire we were able to see a lot of the island in that time. On the second day we found our own Sahara dessert. Neither of us were feeling like taking the quad too far in there so we had a bit of a walk instead.

This is as far as I want to drive…now I’ve got to get back down

Much easier to walk…(no, the tracks are not ours)

Over the next few days the island is putting on a Columbus Festival. Apparently he spent some time here and married the governer of the island’s daughter so it’s a good excuse to have a bit party. Last night they opened the festival with acting out his arrival on the beach. There was also some dancing – notably a man in a dress which looked like it had about three pancakes on it when he spun around. They ended with a fabulous fire juggling show with some impressive music on the beach. Though we didn’t really understand the actors it was good to watch the entertainment.

Fire dancing

Fire Poids spinning

Woo, Porto Santo

Posted in Sailing, the Atlantic Ocean with tags on September 8, 2010 by maidofmettle

We arrived in Porto Santo at about 9 in the morning on Tuesday, tired mostly. Now sleeping off our near-week at sea after showing passports to the local police etc and will update soon.